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A truly thought provoking article by guest blogger and adoptee Jane Besmehn.

I was adopted at the age of 5 months old. That was in 1941. I was born in December of 1940. Back then many mothers went to birthing hospitals to have their babies and stayed with the baby for three months so that the baby could nurse and get a good start.

My mother didn’t positively decide to release me to an adoption agency until the last minute. It is my understanding that she agonized over the decision. I went to the adoption agency at the age of three months and then was adopted when I was five months old. By the age of five months, I had been moved three times.

I have eight kids of my own. Every one of those babies knew me at birth! There is no question in my mind that they knew me and would have been affected if I would not have kept them, even if they had been removed from me at birth.

My head understands how difficult it would have been for my birth mother to keep me. I intellectually understand the pressure she was under to give me up… away. I guess giving “up” a baby for adoption sounds better than “giving away.” I feel very strongly that she did love me and that she probably had limited options and resources and was also convinced that I would have a better life in a stable family.

My adoptive parents were good folks, educated, mature, owned their home. They weren’t my mother. They had an adopted son, he was eight years older than me, and they adopted another little girl three years after they adopted me. We were pretty much middle-class America.

I had little books of nursery rhymes. Three Little Kittens… picture for a minute a little girl, about three, sitting on the carpeted floor of a living room cutting the mittens out of the book and pasting them back with the kittens. There is another nursery rhyme called A Tisket A Tasket… I sat on the floor and cut the letters she wrote to her love out of the book and pasted them back in the green and yellow basket… no one thought it strange… just “cute.”

My second grade teacher wrote on my report card, “Jane seems to be hiding her light under a barrel.” How perceptive. No one else noticed.

One of my favorite books was Lassie Come Home and I read it probably about 20 times or more during my pre-teen and teen years. I always cried hard at the end when Lassie finally made the journey home and was reunited with her people. In fact, I’m still crying, now, as I type. I see the connection, why I read the book so many times, why I cried so hard, then, and now. I have spent my life trying to put things together that belong together. And today, I’m seeing how futile that has been, because all I ever really wanted was my mother.

Because of some archaic laws, I can’t even know her name.

None of the people in my story are villains, it’s a story without the bad guys. Everyone involved including my mother, my adoptive parents and the Children’s Home Society staff had good intentions and acted in what they truly believed to be my best interest. Maybe that is the danger in believing any one can really know what is in the best interest of another; but something needed to be done. I understand that; and outwardly, I did have a good childhood.

Inside, however, it’s a different story. I was odd. I never fit in. I felt displaced and still do. I never tried to excel in anything, just settled for a very mediocre life. It was too risky to risk, and besides, a very long time ago I made a vow that no one would ever get to know me or see me, who I really am. That decision partly came out of an ongoing conflict I had for most of my childhood with my adoptive mother. Nothing I was interested in was interesting to her, or even acceptable. I was a tomboy and she adopted a girl. I wanted to learn to play the guitar, she had me take accordion lessons because we already had one and my little sister was taking lessons. I wanted a horse. Of course, I couldn’t have one. She wanted me to go to college, I wanted away from school, period…! I was so uncomfortable in any social or academic setting where I had to interact with others. I only had one or two friends at a time. I didn’t keep any of them. I chose to be alone.

I was constantly having stomach problems (which I kept completely to myself… I did not believe it was safe to do anything to rock the boat and I got in trouble when I threw up.) I remember lying very still on my back while I fell asleep at night, afraid to move because if I did it felt like I would throw up. No one knew. Not their fault. I didn’t tell anyone. I did not trust. I still don’t trust. That is the story of my life to now. It has affected me in everything that I have attempted to do, hold a job, start a business, stay in a relationship, even hold on to friendships. I always sabotage relationships, or myself, and still do. It’s safer to live that way than to trust and risk hurt. I don’t even know how to trust and all my behavior is designed to protect me from ever having to feel the full pain of separation again.

Slowly the pieces are fitting together and the way I have lived my life is making some sense to me. From that place, I will be able to make some choices about how I will spend the rest of my life. EFT will help.

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Over the last 20 years, many birthmoms have come out of the “birthmom closet” and talked about their pasts. Many have searched for the children that they lost to adoption, and many have reunited. These are women who have dealt with the past in one way or another and moved on.

Unfortunately, there are still many women who refuse to acknowledge what they went through, and who have kept it a secret all of their lives. For these women, the child they bore and gave up becomes THE secret.

Many of the women who worked so hard at keeping their secret have not even shared with their husband that they had a child that was relinquished. Nobody in their life knows what happened but them.

That is a huge secret to carry for such a long time, and the weight of it must be enormous. I can’t even imagine how it must feel to keep a secret like that from the entire world.

For this group of birthmothers, they live in fear of being found by the children that they gave up. They are terrified of a knock at the door or a phone call that will result in their secret being revealed.

How could you possibly explain to a husband of 25 or 30 years why you never shared the fact that you had a child before you married them? These women are scared to death that their marriages and family lives will be put on the line if their child shows up.

I worked with an adoptee who searched for her birthmother for years. She finally found her and made contact and was told that she could never have a relationship because her very existence was a deep, dark secret.

The situation was devastating to the adoptee, but it couldn’t have been easy for the birthmom either. She HAD to want to know her daughter, but didn’t dare let her into her life.

Historically, one of the biggest problems in adoption has been the secrecy. Sealed records make adoptees and birthmothers alike feel like there is something to hide, otherwise why would the records be sealed?

For so many years birthmoms were actually encouraged to keep their experience a secret. That may not be the case today, but there are still many thousands of birthmoms keeping their secrets, because they don’t know any other way to handle what happened to them.

I look forward to a time when most adoptions will be open, all parties concerned with be honest and forthright with each other, and respect will be accorded to all parties. The secrets of adoption need to be left behind.

Adoption search is a complex topic. There are so many things that can happen during or at the end of a search that it boggles the mind.

Adoptees in search of birth families seem to have the best track record. Since they have access to non-identifying information, they have an advantage over birth family members. Their adoptive parents may also have information, even identifying information, concerning their family of origin. All of this can be extremely helpful in a search.

At the end of an adoptee’s search, the situation can go in different ways. They can find a birthmother or other birthfamily member that welcomes them with open arms. This is the happy ending that most adoptees hope for. Unfortunately, adoptees can find that their birth family (usually their birthmother) wants nothing to do with them. This is most often due to the fact that the birthmom has never confided to anyone about the child that she gave up, and years down the road, after keeping the secret for decades, they are afraid to tell the truth. This is a sad situation, but is not uncommon. Adoptees can also find at the end of their search that their birthmother is deceased. There may still be siblings who welcome them, but not all birthmoms go on to have other children, or tell the children they have about “their secret”.

A birthmother searching is more complicated. Since they are usually not entitled to non-identifying information, they often have a lot less information to use when searching. Some states have birth indexes which help in searches, but access to a birth index depends on the state in which the child was born. Birthmoms often have to bite the bullet, and pay a professional searcher to find their child. The end of a birthmom search is more up in the air than an adoptee search. Birthmothers are rejected by adoptees far more often than adoptees are rejected by birthmoms. A complicating factor for birthmoms is that once they’ve found their child, the adoptive parents may feel threatened by them, and when this happens, it usually prevents any kind of a relationship from happening, sadly.

More and more often over the last few years, I’ve seen adoptive parents helping their kids to search. These kinds of searches have the best chance of a happy ending, since the searcher has the support of their parents in their search. I’ve seen a number of wonderful reunions that came about when adoptive parents helped their children to search. When everyone is involved, and adoptive family, birthfamily and adoptee all come together as an extended family, wonderful things happen.

The most important thing for any searcher to remember is that you never know what you’ll find at the end of your search, and you need to be as prepared as possible for any eventuality.

If you are currently searching, and are feeling stressed, why not try a little EFT to rid yourself of the stress?

Setup Statement:
Even though I am really scared about what I may find at the end of my search, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
Reminder Phrases:
This fear, what will I find?, this fear, searching is scary, I choose to transform this fear, into an energy of healing, I choose to release negative feelings, and embrace positive feelings.

Back to No More Adoption Pain

Anger — we all feel it, but not many people find it acceptable. When we were children, most of us were encouraged not to show our anger, and we carried that habit over into adulthood. We get angry about all kinds of things, but we’ve learned over time how to “stuff those feelings down”. Maybe we smoke a cigarette, maybe we have a drink, or maybe we go around the block until we’ve walked it off, but we seldom let others see or know that we’re angry.

There is lots of anger in the adoption triad. We’ve got angry adoptees, angry birthmothers and angry adoptive parents. To each of us, our anger feel justified, and it may be.

Adoptees are often angry because they feel that they’ve been abandoned. In their minds, their birthmother saw them as an inconvenience, and it was far easier to let somebody else raise their child than to raise it themselves. Very seldom is this actually true, but lots of adoptees feel this way.

Other adoptees are angry that they have been, as they see it, victimized by the adoption community. The decision about where and how they would live their lives was made by others, and even as adults they’re not allowed to know about their families of origin. This is an anger that I feel is well justified, and I’d like to think that at some point the system will be reformed so that adult adoptees can always find out where they came from. Everyone deserves that right.

Birthmothers have their share of anger. Many are angry at their families and “the system” for forcing them to relinquish children that they didn’t want to give up. That anger is intensified by the fact that birthmoms are not expected to or encouraged to express grief over the loss of their child, but are instead told to “forget it and move on”.

Birthmothers have virtually no rights when it comes to getting non-identifying information so that they can find their children. That makes it mighty hard for a birthmom to search and find. This is still another reason (again, justified) for anger on the part of birthmoms.

Adoptive parents feel that they have plenty to be angry about, too. Many get angry at their children if they decide to search for their birthfamily. They feel betrayed, theatened, or just plain jealous, and therefore they are angry. Some are also angry at birth family members who have found their children. These parents harbor the feeling that once relinquishment papers are signed, a birth parent has given up any right to ever know the child.

So much anger, for so many reasons… Anger is usually an uncomfortable thing to deal with, and we end up with guilt on top of that anger. EFT is the most effective method that I’ve ever found for dealing with anger. Once you zero in on an incident that made you angry, and tap through 2 or 3 rounds, the anger is often totally gone, and you are left with a feeling of peace and calmness that is far more pleasant than anger.

Why not give EFT a try for your anger? Five minutes of tapping might just give you the relief that you’ve been hoping for.

Back to No More Adoption Pain

No, I’m not an adoptee myself.  But I am the owner of the Finding in Florida reunion registry, as well as the Finding in Florida Mailing List, which is about 350 strong.  I’ve worked with adoptees and birth families for 16 years.  I’ve also facilitated 2 different adoption search and support groups in my local area.  I’ve dealt with LOTS of adoptees over the years.

The most common pain I’ve found with adoptees is the pain of abandonment.  Even if logically you know that you weren’t actually abandoned, that doesn’t seem to stop adoptees from feeling that way.  Over the last 16 years I’ve worked with many adoptees who felt a lot of pain because some part of them believed that their birthmother didn’t love them enough to keep them.  The belief doesn’t have to be logical.  It doesn’t have to make sense.  It just has to BE there to cause emotional pain.

Another common kind of pain for adoptees is that of not feeling that they fit in and are truly a part of their adoptive family.  This is especially true if the adoptive parents have biological children along with adopted children.  Again, this doesn’t have to be logical.  Some adoptees, despite being loved and well cared for, grow up feeling that they are outsiders.  Feeling that you never really fit in with your family can be a source of great pain. 

If you are dealing with this kind of pain, EFT can bring you tremendous relief.  EFT can give you peace of mind, and allow you to comfortable with your situation and your life.

Not everyone is ready or willing to book sessions with a practitioner to deal with their issues, but EFT is so easy to learn and to use that many people can find relief on their own.

No More Adoption Pain features a chart showing the most common EFT tapping points, as well as some general directions for tapping.  In 5 minutes you can be tapping yourself, and discovering the power of EFT. 

We would love to be able to help you with a FREE session, but if you’re not ready for that, please consider visiting the website and giving EFT a try.  You won’t be sorry you did, and once you’ve mastered EFT, you’ll find it useful in all kinds of ways.  EFT can be used for stress, anxiety, anger, headaches, and many other things.

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